PSA for Christian d00ds: DO NOT MARRY US. PLEASE.

[TRIGGER WARNING: domestic violence and abuse. Please note: although this post focuses on abuse perpetrated by men against women within the context of heterosexual relationships, “red flags” for abuse can apply to relationships comprising partners of any gender or orientation. Resources for a diverse range of abuse and sexual assault victims appear at the end of this post.]


Some doucheweasel of the pastor species who dwells in New York City of all places—as if we don’t have enough problems here already with the entitled banksters, murderous cops, Rupert Murdoch’s legions and other assorted pimples on the ass of humanity—has helpfully assembled a list for his fellow brothers-in-Christ entitled 10 WOMEN CHRISTIAN MEN SHOULD NOT MARRY. One might imagine such a list would look something like this:

  1. Rebecca Watson.
  2. Sikivu Hutchison.
  3. Malala Yousafzai.
  4. Annie Laurie Gaylor.
  5. Susan Jacoby.
  6. Lindsay Lohan.
  7. …etc.

Okay, maybe Ms. Lohan is Christian wife material—I have no idea. But this kind of practical, specific advice is NOT, in fact, what is on offer from pastor Stephen Kim of Mustard Seed Church in New York City. No. Instead, we get ten characteristics that, should a Christian man detect in his potential mate, ought to send him running for the hills screaming “I WILL NEVER, EVER MARRY YOU!”

Loyal Readers™ will be unsurprised to learn that yours truly pegs at least nine out of ten of these features—and, depending on the age of my would-be Christian suitor, all ten. But frankly I am worried sick about ladies who might not be as fortunate as I am, and could find themselves accidentally married to a Christian d00d. Because let me tell you, at least according to the pastor, Christian men are terrible: judgmental, controlling, immature, closed-minded, comically insecure—and, less amusingly, display more than a few of the classic red flags of abusers. So I sincerely commend pastor Kim for providing this valuable public service in highlighting ten qualities women urgently need to cultivate in themselves, in order to guard against the dismal fate that is Christian wifehood.

1. The Unbeliever.

The pastor is clear that a Christian d00d marrying a non-Christian woman is strictly forbidden. The key concern here is ostensibly “idolatry,” i.e. the couple and their children turning away from the Christian god to worship other, presumably more fun and interesting gods. But if idolatry were really the concern, atheist women should still be marriageable: as a rule, we do not worship any gods. (Well, except for Lord Shiva, of course. I thought that went without saying.) The fact is, we are never going to skip off into the woods with our little Gaia and Thor in tow for a Wiccan mass and drunken orgy, unless of course the wine being served is a particularly good vintage of Provence rosé. So idolatry cannot be the real reason to warn Christian men away from unbelievers. No, it’s because these d00ds are so painfully insecure that they cower in abject terror at the very thought of an honest conversation about their beliefs. Because of their extreme emotional fragility, they strive to remain at all times inside a tight, self-referential echo chamber: unchallenged, willfully ignorant, incurious and intellectually bankrupt. You know: like a Fox News viewer.

Ladies, just get thyself some pentagram jewelry, and be troubled no more.

pentagram pendant

Amulet pendant, $7.50

Abuse Red Flag

Pathological narcissism: “A narcissist cannot tolerate criticism. This does not just mean that a narcissist will reject or dislike criticism, but that he will escalate and lash out in the face of it.”


2. The Divorcee.

Wedding bandsAccording to pastor Kim, a second marriage is “invalid and adulterous. A divorced woman, therefore, is off limits for a Christian man–unrepentant adultery being a sin that prevents one from obtaining eternal life (1 Cor 6:9).”

Whew! Good thing I am an unrepentant adulterer! But for you unfortunate ladies who are not unrepentant adulterers, fret not. There is a fix: marry a kind, hot foreign d00d who needs a US work visa. (Preferably a wealthy one: apparently these sham marriages can be quite lucrative!) When he gets his green card you divorce him and voilà: you are officially off limits to Christian d00ds.

But really, this objection rings hollow. It sounds an awful lot like the toxic purity culture right wing Christians want to enforce on all of us.

Also: “eternal life?” Why would anyone want that? And even if you did want that, wouldn’t you much rather be a vampire? I know I sure would. Vampires are hot.

Alex Skarsgard

Alex Skarsgard, people. Alex Skarsgard.

Abuse red flag

Jealousy: “Jealous behavior is one of the surest signs that abuse is down the road.”


3. The Older Woman.

Whether you can claim this exemption or not depends on the relative age of the Christian d00d in question. At first I didn’t get what could possibly be the problem here, but then the pastor helpfully ‘splained:

I want to remind you that God intentionally (with good reason!) created Adam before Eve in the First Marriage. Scripture informs us that God created man first chronologically for the sake of authority! Listen:  “I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet. For Adam was formed first, then Eve” (1 Timothy 2:12-13).

Sure, that sounds totally legit.

Abuse Red Flag

Attracted to vulnerability: “abusive men are attracted to women much younger and/or at different developmental and maturity levels than them…He is attracted to the power imbalance in this type of relationship.”


4. The Feminist.

Feminism is the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes. Are you instead committed to the political, economic, and social inequality of the sexes? Then ask your doctor whether Christian Marriage® is right for you!

The pastor has some, um, interesting things to say about feminism:

Any woman who tries to usurp her husband’s authority or even claims to be a co-leader with her man is gravely dishonoring the God who created her to be subject and obedient to her husband (Eph 5:22, Col 3:18, 1 Pet 3:1).

Leather Man NYCIt seems to me if this god designed men (though not women) so inadequately that they each require a permanent personal slave, then he should be the one providing those services for the helpless creatures himself. There’s a fantastic shop on Christopher Street that sells the perfect outfits and accoutrements for that sort of thing, FYI.

Abuse Red Flag

Sexist attitude: “Abusers tend to enforce rigid gender roles or believe in the traditional male ‘head of the household’ role.” Also: “gender inequalities increase the risk of violence by men against women and inhibit the ability of those affected to seek protection.” Plus: “Does your partner have strong ideas about the place and position of women vs. men?” Because RUN.


5. The Sexy-Dresser.

LouboutinsWhy yes, thank you, I will indeed show some leg and/or cleavage when I feel like it. Probably not at the grocery store or a funeral, but if it makes me feel happy and confident to wear Those Shoes or That Lipstick I’ma do it. For me. Sadly, our pastor friend does not approve:

The way that a woman is willing to expose herself says much about her heart: “And behold, the woman meets him, dressed as a prostitute, wily of heart” (Proverbs 7:10).  The text in Proverbs explains that a woman will dress in a certain way to catch a certain type of man.  Don’t be that man. 

What type of man pray tell is our harlot attempting to “catch”? The “type” who finds her devastatingly attractive and would dearly love to fuck her? Because clearly these are NOT qualities any woman would want in a long term partner, amirite? (!!!)

Note also the Evil Temptress vs. poor unwitting prey framing. Seems pastor Kim believes men are constitutionally incapable of finding someone sexually attractive and not acting on it. Yet in my experience, men are indeed capable of behaving better than feral dogs. Christian men? I guess not so much. So sex it up, ladies! Wear whatever makes you feel happy and confident! Just be extra careful not to unwittingly snare yourself a Christian d00d—apparently they are THE WORST.

Abuse Red Flag

Jealous accusations: “Has your partner jokingly or seriously complained that you were trying to attract other men/women by the way you walk, dress, or behave?” If so, STFU & Go Away® might be right for him!


6. The Loud-Mouth.

HAHAHAHA! When someone spews harmful bullshit, I speak up (if it’s safe to do so). I consider it the moral duty of a decent human being. As a woman of course, I have been cut off, interrupted, ignored and spoken over by d00ds, in professional and personal contexts, more times than I could even begin to count. Men do these things to establish status and dominance, presumably among other males, since most women think these moves are sure signs of insecure and disrespectful blowhards. Tellingly, even when women are purposefully allotted equal time to speak, the perception is that they’re actually getting far more time than an equal share. Dale Spender, Laurie Bauer and Peter Trudgill explain this phenomenon:

The talkativeness of women has been gauged in comparison not with men but with silence. Women have not been judged on the grounds of whether they talk more than men, but of whether they talk more than silent women.

In other words, if women talk at all, this may be perceived as ‘too much’ by men who expect them to provide a silent, decorative background in many social contexts.

Men like…pastor Kim, whom you may recall favorably citing 1 Timothy 2 above: “I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet.” Let me put it this way: the more people like pastor Kim keep talking, the louder I will get. Who knew it was so easy to repel Christian men just by speaking up? Get yourself a bullhorn, ladies, and don’t be afraid to use it.


7. The Child-Hater.

Do not marry a woman who is not willing to have children of her own.  In the Christian worldview, there is absolutely no room for two married, biologically capable, human beings to remain intentionally child-less.

You know, occasionally a friend will remark on my apparent dislike for children. This observation is not accurate: I dislike assholes, and I do not discriminate based on age. If there happens to be a lot of overlap between the two—and in my neighborhood there definitely is—that is not my problem to solve. I am intentionally childless for many reasons I won’t go into here, except to say that as an unrepentant adulterer, I am absolutely overjoyed every single fucking day that I never did spawn with my abusive ex. But the pastor, he no likee:

If you are adverse towards having children, then there’s a simple remedy for that: single-hood.

By which he means celibacy, of course. Hahaha nope. He may not be aware of this, but there’s actually another simple remedy for that: it’s called birth control. So if you suspect your fianmay be a Christian d00d, tell him you hate kids and are having your tubes tied. That should get rid of your problem.

Abuse Red Flag

Reproductive coercion: “coercion by male partners to become pregnant and to control the outcome of a pregnancy — has been associated with a history of both intimate partner physical and sexual violence.”


8. The Wander-Luster. 

There is something very wrong with a girl who regularly needs to be “out of the home.”

Well, yes. A girl needs a safe and supportive home environment—what with being a minor and all.

The constant desire for new experiences, new places, new faces, and new forms of entertainment only serves to clearly manifest the fact that the woman has not found her rest in God. Believe it or not, Scripture speaks repeatedly about such women:  “She is loud and wayward; her feet do not stay at home” (Proverbs 7:11).

Translation: a woman’s entire world should be narrowed to her home. Otherwise, Jeezus haz a sad.

Just remember ladies: LOUD & WAYWARD FTW.

Niagra Falls NY —> 4,050 km

Abuse Red Flag

Isolation: “An abuser will attempt to isolate the victim by severing the victim’s ties to outside support and resources. The batterer will accuse the victim’s friends and family of being ‘trouble makers.’”


9. The Career Woman.

Modern American society might hate to hear this, but God made men to be the providers and women to be the nurturers of the home (in most instances). It’s okay for a woman to be a doctor, attorney, or any other professional. However, if her career is coming at the expense of her home, then something is wrong.

Ugh, here we go again with the home. The home! The home! I get it: meaningful and fulfilling work is not what a Christian d00d wants for his partner, nor does he want to be a nurturing partner at home. Ew.

The woman ought to be willing (and even desirous–to some extent) to give up her job for the sake of raising her kids in the Lord.  “So I counsel younger widows to marry, to have children, to manage their homes and to give the enemy no opportunity for slander” (1 Tim 5:14).

There’s your solution right there: just don’t give a flying fuck what your enemies—for example, Southern Baptists—say about you.

Abuse Red Flag

Economic abuse: “a form of abuse when one intimate partner has control over the other partner’s access to economic resources, which diminishes the victim’s capacity to support him/herself and forces him/her to depend on the perpetrator financially… Economic abuse in a domestic situation may involve: preventing a spouse from resource acquisition, such as restricting their ability to find employment, maintain or advance their careers, and acquire assets…and when victims are asked why they stay in abusive relationships, ‘lack of income’ is a common response.”


10. The Devotion-less Woman.

Is the woman having a regular, daily devotional time with her God? If she doesn’t love the Lord now, chances are, she won’t love the Lord after marriage.

OMG I loooove Lord Shiva! And I worship him with all my…er, heart! Heart.

You want to marry a girl who has an intimate relationship with Jesus.

Wait, with who now? No, I definitely don’t see myself in a compatible relationship—intimate or otherwise—with a d00d who is a petty little shit to his mom and brothers, and also to fig trees, and who calls a desperate woman and her sick child “dogs”. I mean, I FUCKING LOVE FIGS.

Jesus (not you) has to be the first man in her life.

Okay, that is not going to work out with one of these narcissists for a partner. Trust me on this.


So what have we learned? Christian men are to be studiously avoided, and there are plenty of easy and inexpensive ways to repel them. Also: apparently I am at least ten women in one.

Finally, remember kids: it’s feminists who have little regard for men.



Resources for a diverse range of abuse and sexual assault victims – See more at:
Resources for a diverse range of abuse and sexual assault victims – See more at:

IMPORTANT SAFETY NOTE: Computer use can be monitored and is impossible to completely clear. If you are afraid your internet or computer usage might be monitored, please use a safer computer or phone.


US:  National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-7233 (SAFE)/TTY 1−800−787−3224
UK: Women’s Aid: 0808 2000 247.
Australia: 1800RESPECT at 1800 737 732.
Worldwide: International Directory of Domestic Violence Agencies, a global list of helplines and crisis centers.

U.S. & Canada: The Domestic Abuse Helpline for Men & Women
UK: ManKind Initiative
Australia: One in Three Campaign


U.S: National Sexual Assault Hotline: 1-800-656-4673 (HOPE); National Sexual Assault Online Hotline.
International: See here.


MaleSurvivor. (“provides critical resources to male survivors of sexual trauma and all their partners in recovery by building communities of Hope, Healing, & Support.”)
One in 6. (“Our mission is to help men who have had unwanted or abusive sexual experiences in childhood live healthier, happier lives.”)

RESOURCES FOR TRANS* VICTIMS (staffed exclusively by trans volunteers):
Trans Lifeline
US: (877) 565-8860
Canada: (877) 330-6366
See also LGBT:

PROJECTION: It’s Not Just For Movies.

[CONTENT NOTE: f*-bombs.]

I have long been interested in subverting the U.S. conservative movement, which I am certain is the root of all evil despite what you may have heard elsewhere. If you are not convinced of this proposition, consider for a moment precisely what it is that conservatives wish to conserve: a status quo that is violently racist and sexist, patriarchal and heteronormative, ubercapitalist and imperialist, ableist and classist, Christian supremacist and anti-intellectual, sadistically punitive and social-Darwinist—I could go on (and on and on).

What the fuck. Two sentences in, and I've already bummed everyone out. :

But it's not all bad news! Having dedicated much of my adult life to the study of conservatives in the wild (and not coincidentally, much of my childhood to navigating those worlds to survive), I am here to provide you with practical tips that can save you a whole lot of time you would otherwise spend scratching your head in dumfounded bewilderment. The most important thing to know about conservatism is this: there is nothing new in any of it. Not one single thing. I have pored over tracts by Buckley, Schlafly, Will, Friedman, Rand, Coulter, Kristol and Krauthammer; I have listened to Limbaugh and watched Fox News; I have read The Wall Street Journal editorial page and countless right-wing blogs. And I have satisfied myself beyond any doubt that it always—always—boils down to a comically grandiose sense of self-importance and entitlement. It doesn't matter whether we're talking about panty-sniffing Catholic bishops or reckless Wall Street traders, the entire "intellectual" basis of conservatism can be summed up thusly: “I’ve got mine, Jack. Fuck you. And especially, fuck them.”

Naturally this point of view leads conservative minds to spin increasingly bizarre rationalizations for their own privilege, and corresponding justifications for oppressing others. One of the more common manifestations of this phenomenon is psychological projection. Projection is a theory in psychology whereby people avoid acknowledging dissonant thoughts and unsavory impulses in themselves by attributing them to others. Everyone is prone to this, especially in times of crisis. But right-wing conservatives deploy it to such an extreme degree and with such a total lack of self-awareness that it borders on comic farce. Allow me to illustrate.

So, some conservative Christians made a terrible movie based on a silly chain email endlessly promoted by a bunch of Liars 4 Jeezus™. (Here's the trailer, if you're a masochist.) Of course I have no intention of seeing this film. (See: nothing new in any of it.) Happily, it turns out we don't have to see it because some d00d named Neil Carter did and wrote about the film's egregious characterizations of atheists. For example:

Atheist professors are predatory, and they are out to convert everyone into ideological clones of themselves. Clearly the concept of people committed to “freethought” and “liberal arts” is utterly foreign to the writers of this flick. Ironically, while no secular university I’ve ever heard of would hesitate to fire a professor who demands a signed renunciation of religion from his students, I have heard of Christian schools which demand written statements of belief from both their students and faculty. In real life only one of these two cultures threatens people with everlasting torment for not believing the right things, and it’s not the group being caricatured in the movie.

Christian colleges require sworn statements of faith from their students, under threat of eternal torture in the next life [sic] and expulsion in this one. So, the filmmakers conjure up a villainous atheist professor who demands Christian students renounce their beliefs under penalty of failing his class. (Okay, strictly speaking they didn't conjure him up. They heard about him from an awesome email.) Except that such a professor is complete fiction. Pure projection.

See? Lets try another:

Atheists are cocky, self-sure, and totally enamored with their own superiority.

Reminder: the entire point of this movie is to illustrate the superiority of Christians.

Projection: it's what's for dinner.

Atheists will openly threaten you, bow up, get in your face, stare you down, and even chase you down a hallway and grab you to force you to listen to their angry diatribes because your faith makes them so angry!

We don't have to imagine this is what some Christians would like to do to non-believers: they already do it—and worse. [TW: extreme bullying, violence, rape and death threats, animal cruelty.] Project much?

Atheists are clearly incapable of love. If you’re hurting or sick they’ll abandon you.

Translation: "I'd be a horrible person if not for…Jeezus nagging me not to be."

Atheists lack ethical boundaries, so they’ll date students against virtually every university’s rules.

But not Christians. Never happens. Got projection?

Atheists have no basis for morality…If there’s no God, then there can’t be any good reason to follow rules or be honest or do anything moral.

Translation: "The reason I'm not a murderous, thieving rapist is because of an invisible Sky Daddy.” Okay, player. Stay away from me.

Obviously, none of this paints conservative Christians in a positive light. And it’s all pretty amusing, if you don’t think too much about the consequences for their children. But there is a frightening aspect, too. For example, if the religious right fears Obama coming to put them all in FEMA camps for their beliefs, consider what that might mean if (when?) they obtain such power for themselves. Even now, while we laugh at their ridiculous claims of persecution, conservative Christians are busy enacting religion-based laws that harm, oppress and yes, persecute their fellow citizens.

The Devil Made Me Do It: How Christianity Enables Sexual Abusers

By Elsa Roberts, Follow her on Twitter

An article that was recently published by Christianity Today has rightfully infuriated many people, Christians and atheists alike. Since publication, Christianity Today has been getting significant pushback (see hashtag #TakeDownThatPost) for publishing the piece, and late Friday night, as I was putting the finishing touches on this article, they took it down and posted an apology. However, that does not negate the fact that they published this piece in the first place and, as an ex-fundamentalist Christian, I find their initial choice to publish it utterly unsurprising and completely in line with common Christian doctrine surrounding sin and sex.

The article in question is by an anonymous felon who is in prison for sexually assaulting (and having a coercive sexual relationship with) a minor under his charge while he was a youth minister. However, from the tenor of the article it is impossible to tell that this is the case. It is framed by the site and the author as a consensual extramarital affair, where the wrongdoing is located in adultery, with the explicit implication that anyone can be lead into this “sin”. Except that is not what this is at all – there never was a consensual sexual relationship; the crime and morally reprehensible act is not cheating but sexually coercing and assaulting a child/young adult.

According to common Christian doctrine, the girl who was victimized and the pastor are both guilty of sexual sin because the girl “tempted” the pastor and “allowed” this so-called relationship to take place. Because she wasn’t physically forced (at least not by the perpetrator’s account), she is equally or at least partially culpable. Additionally, instead of casting this man as a predator who manipulates and abuses, Christianity* conveniently plays along with this manipulative tale of how anyone can “fall into sexual sin”, thus absolving the perpetrator of any real responsibility for his behavior or acknowledgement of what his actions truly constitute.

Growing up in fundamentalist Christianity I witnessed this attitude continually. Sin was something anyone could fall into or commit, and all sins were equal in the eyes of God – therefore, sexual abuse was just one more sin and victims were closely scrutinized to see if their actions had led someone to sin. As long as the sinner asked for forgiveness, all was well again and it was the victim’s responsibility to forgive their abuser or else they were sinning as well (along with the not infrequent insinuation that the victim was also somehow at fault for tempting the perpetrator). There was no difference in their eyes between two teenagers “falling into sin” by having a consensual sexual relationship and one person sexually assaulting another – both were simply sexual sin.

In many circles there was an additional assumption that the victim must have done something for God to “allow” this to happen: the victim was, perhaps, not under the “umbrella of protection”, or was behaving or dressing “immodestly”. The concept of enthusiastic consent and that a victim never invites assault was not only rejected, but conflicted with common interpretations of the Bible and the many passages that place the onus on the girl/woman to avoid rape by being virtuous. To illustrate, a pastor at a church I attended as a child counselled a man who was sexually abusing his daughters, but no one saw any reason to report him because he was seeking counseling through the pastor and asked for forgiveness for his sin (which he, of course, kept repeating). And in another story, a woman I know was frequently sexually assaulted by her father and at times molested in front of her mother – her mother’s response was to accuse her of being a temptress and to ignore the abuse. In fundamentalist Christianity there is always an easy cause for sin: Satan, who is often seen as acting through the victim and leading the sinner astray.

Christian outlets will continue to publish the missives of manipulators like this because their philosophy and doctrine support it – changing that narrative within the church requires a complete reinterpretation (and I would argue, rewriting) of the Bible around the concept of sin and forgiveness, among other things.

I prefer to construct a secular ethical and moral code that doesn’t require rewriting a mythos that has no value to me – especially because I personally find religion to have harmful consequences, ultimately, because it relies on a refusal to examine and discard beliefs for which there is no evidence. The fact remains, though, that religion is a powerful force, and no amount of evidence will convince most people to abandon it. Working from within to change narratives that support and foster abuse is necessary, and a task I hope progressive Christians continue with, though it is not work I can participate in.

Although Christianity Today has removed their article, I believe they should do much, much more. Ask Christianity Today to publish a series on sexual abuse in the church from the perspective of victims. You can contact them by filling out their contact form.

*Note: I am speaking of Christianity generally here, I recognize that not all Christians or Christian sects believe this or act this way.

“I refuse to grow older and become boring”: an Interview with Explorer Barbara Hillary

Explorer Barbara Hillary became the first African American woman to reach the North Pole––at the age of 75. At 79 she reached the South Pole. Now 82, Hillary will speak at the American Atheists’ 2014 convention; she took the time to speak to SW about religion in the black community, adventure, and how she has remained young at heart.


SW: How did you became an atheist?


BH: It was a progression. Most blacks are programmed in the womb <laughs> with the black mother taking nutrients for the baby in the form of the Bible. My parents came from the South––my father died when I was 2––and I was forced to go to Sunday school at our African Methodist Episcopalian church. I was a good young black kid, put on my patent leather shoes on Sunday and went to Sunday School. I once asked my mother, “Why are there no black angels?” She just shook her head.


I joined the Episcopal Church and as I grew older I started thinking more and questioning more. I had to give myself a series of mental enemas. Mental conditioning is one of the most powerful tools that exists in the world. Conditioning of children, especially. By the time they reach a certain point in life their minds are like granite on certain issues.  


I guess you’d call me an atheist. I’ve reached a very satisfying point in my mental development. I’ve reached a point of tremendous and refreshing personal freedom. I’m not concerned about labels for myself right now. I’m concerned about being able to continue to question and within that framework, continue to grow, because I consider growth and reaching for maturity a never-ending process.


The black experience has made Christianity a greater shackle than the slaves knew in the slaveship. Christianity is the perpetual shackle that rapes the black mind. But from slavery forward the systematic, psychological programming of the black mind was very clever, very smart, and it has been very destructive––and destructive is an understatement. Numerically there were more blacks in most southern states than whites, so one of the first things that had to be done was to capture and control the mind. To my knowledge not one black person came here a Christian. They had to, now, give blacks a new concept: that your God is white, your master’s white, and you really don’t count, and if you don’t like it here, just wait for heaven. It was forced Christianity, which meant they beat the shit out of you until you went to church. The Christian church was the first segregated institution in America. The white slave owner sat upstairs in the church and the slaves sat downstairs.


The first authority figure in a child’s life is the mother. She reinforces the submission, drags the child to the Christian slave church, and from that point on it is firmly entrenched.


I ask my friends why they believe in God, and they say, “I believe because I believe.” I ask,  “Who taught you?” They say, “My mother.” I ask, “Well who taught her?” They cannot accept that originally it was the slavemaster. They just wipe that part out. So now you have a whole race of people bogged down in religion. Now, you have to have a lieutenant. The white slavemaster couldn't control all those slaves effectively, so we got the black clergyman–the lieutenant of racism.


Generation after generation it continued, and by now, for women in my age bracket it is inconceivable that there’s no white Jesus Christ. On Sunday mornings you have millions of dollars going into the pockets of this exclusive group of black clergy who live like kings. And you are so programmed that you cannot think beyond, “Massa is gonna provide.” Everything must come from this white benevolent person–even Santa Claus!


SW: What made you want to take on this expedition to the North Pole? Why now?


BH: When I retired I was looking around for something different to do, something unusual. Usually what comes up is a cruise. I couldn’t deal with that. There’s nothing more boring than the average married people. The only thing worse than that is grandparents. The thought of being stuck on a ship with these people–and I couldn’t swim–wasn’t bearable. Instead, I thought of photographing polar bears and I went up to Manitoba and I met a different type of freethinking person––people who have interests in life besides the last bad relationship. I just fell in love with it, the adventure, the touch of danger; I liked seeing an animal that could break through a 3-foot solid block of ice with one swipe. I learned dog mushing and snowmobiling and as a natural progression I learned there was no black woman who had reached the North Pole and I decided to do it. It wasn’t that easy. The hell begins when you first make up your mind you’re really going to do it. It hits you, a thousand things come out of the woodwork, and you say to yourself, do I really want to do this?


SW: What advice would you give to senior citizens who want to get the most out of their lives?


BH: I refuse to grow older and become boring to myself and others. Preparation for healthy aging starts when you’re young: if you squander your life with poor choices, living for other people; if you do not realize the most important word in the human vocabulary, No… learn to say no. I don’t care if it’s to a relative, a loved one, a child, if you can’t say it and feel comfortable you’re going to take problems into your older years and suffer from bad-ass choices.


When I do public speaking I tell my audiences, and I’ve spoken to 2500 people at one time, this is what I do. Perhaps you’d like to try it. I don’t tell anyone what I do. This is what worked for me. Because one of the main reasons marriages don’t work is that people go into marriages thinking they’re going to change somebody. There’s not a mother fucker in this world you can change unless they want to change.


SW: Where would you like to see the secular movement focus, in terms of outreach and activism?


BH: If you start at schools, universities, those girls and boys who become parents are now freethinking, humanists, atheists, questioning, encouraging to children to start turning their mental wheels, that may crush the cycle of granite-like thought process. I readily seek a university where leaders and real thinkers come together. Not the professors who go from meeting to meeting and are so insulated. We need schools and secondary schools and colleges where we have our own thinkers. I’ve seen people traumatized by Christianity. Not everyone has the strength to say “This is stupid and not logical,” because they’re comfortable with acceptance. To most black women my age I’m a demon, or crazy. We have to get people involved at a younger age, and they can help and remove the barriers toward becoming better world.